Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Coco Review: A Festive and Delightful Animated Feature

At this festive time of the year the world of cinema is filled with films commemorating the holiday season. Many a year have the likes of Christmas played a role on the big screen and it tends to go well with moviegoers. Yet of all the holidays to be depicted this year it is surprise to see the likes of Dia de los Muertos, aka Day of the Dead, to make a cinematic appearance. The Mexican holiday where families pay respect to past relatives can lead to some interesting ideas for(especially when implementing the supernatural aspect of the day) and this is evident in the latest film from Pixar: Coco. Helmed by directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, Coco centers on the ideas behind the Dia De Los Muertos in a fashion that is accustomed to Pixar. The end result to this new animated feature was an experience that was rich with festivity as well as creativity.

The story of Coco centers on Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) a young boy who is eager to become a musician. One Dia de los Muertos Miguel's life is turned upside down when he transported to the Land of the Dead. There Miguel meets his relatives, searches for his great-great-grandfather and befriends Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal): a sly spirit who is desperate to visit the Living World. The plot to Coco was one that relied on simplicity and adventure. This direction was to be expected as it is something that Pixar movies are known for. When it comes to its narrative Coco held few surprises, but it is in the plot's moments and twist is where this movie finds its voice. The turns that the story takes were remarkable as it gave this adventurous tale dimensions in its narrative and themes. To top things off Coco's story created a world rich with imagination and while this is nothing new to the likes of Pixar the film manages to use this plot element to the best of its ability.

When it came to characters Coco presented nothing original, but that is not to say the cast was bad-far from it in fact. In both concept and direction Miguel was a typical protagonist. Yet this does work to the movie's advantage as the young hero was sensible and easy to get behind. Though Miguel was good he was nearly overshadowed by the secondary lead Hector. Hector is perhaps one best animated characters in recent memory as the trickster oozed charisma that was both entertaining and captivating. Together Miguel and Hector formed a duo that, while not completely in sync, managed to play off each other in a solid fashion. The supporting players to Coco may not have had the presence of the leads but they did give the right flavor for the cast. Each of the supporting characters, from the strict Mama Imedla (Alanna Ubach) to Miguel's funny dog companion Dante, gave Coco a sense of variety that was fitting for any animated film. Rounding out the cast was Benjamin Bratt as Enersto de La Cruz. While there was not much to Cruz's development the direction and performance of this disease singer was enough to make Enersto a fine addition to the movie.
Continuing the trend of suspected good qualities for Coco were elements such as animation. Pixar films are known for having stellar animation and this new feature was no exception. However what set this film apart from other was its vibrant and festive colors as well as its blend of animation. The colors to Coco gave it a look that worked for the both the movie and holiday that it represented. The movie’s uses of animation could be dynamic as scenes such as the prologue would use contrasting techniques to make a creative sequence. Just as impressive as the animation was the score by Michael Giachinno. Like other elements the music was festive as its energetic compositions worked for the film while keeping true to the holiday's heritage. Adding to the music were original songs for the film which managed to be catchy as well as complement the tone to this animated movie.

Coco was indeed a joyful time at the movies. Although the film used familiar traits in both its story and characters, it managed use these aspects to the best of their abilities all the while standing out with its stellar animation, festive tone and solid presentation. Though Dia De Los Muertos has come and gone Coco keeps the spirit alive as this animated feature is a delightful holiday film that was just as entertaining as it was touching.

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